DA to Polanksi: Come Back to LA, Then We'll Talk - NBC Southern California

DA to Polanksi: Come Back to LA, Then We'll Talk



    DA to Polanksi: Come Back to LA, Then We'll Talk
    Bill Bridges/Globe Photos
    Roman Polansky

    A Los Angeles County prosecutor filed court papers Tuesday asking a judge to dismiss Roman Polanski's motion to throw out a three-decade-old case, in which the Oscar-winning film director was convicted in the late 1970s of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

    In the 17-page document, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren wrote that Polanski has "voluntarily remained a fugitive from justice" since 1978 and that he is "not entitled" to have the motion heard until he returns to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

    Polanski fled to France after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles. His attorneys filed a request last month to dismiss the charge against him because of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct that was detailed in a television documentary.

    The documents filed by the district attorney's office would be rated "X" in movie terminology and contained a reminder that the rape occurred at the home of Academy Award-winning actor Jack Nicholson. In a footnote, the document said: "Jack Nicholson was not home at the time of the events and had no knowledge of the activities of Roman Polanski."

    The motion, drawing on descriptions contained in transcripts of grand jury hearings in 1977, provided details of a photo shoot in which the young girl was given champagne and part of a Quaalude pill, was told to disrobe and was subjected to oral copulation, forced intercourse and sodomy by Polanski.

    It said the victim asked him to stop several times and that she was in tears when Polanski drove her home.

    "At some point, the defendant warned the victim not to tell her mother about what had happened, adding that `This is our secret,"' the motion said.

    The girl, now a 44-year-old woman, has said she never wanted Polanski to go to prison and feels the case should be dismissed. The 75-year-old Polanski, living in exile in France, wants to return to the United States.

    In a motion filed Monday, attorney Chad Hummel sought removal of Polanski's case to the California Judicial Council for resolution. Hummel wants the council to appoint a judge from another county to hear the case.

    He claims that statements by a court spokesman since the original motion was filed showed that the courts have prejudged at least one issue -- whether Polanski must appear in court on Jan. 21 for his request to be considered. Such an appearance might make him subject to arrest.

    The Polish-born Polanski, 75, has been living in self-imposed exile since fleeing the United States in 1978 after admitting he had sex with a girl he hired as a model for a photo shoot. Polanski, who had already been incarcerated for a psychological diagnosis for 42 days, had been scheduled to be sentenced and sent back to prison. The judge issued a warrant for his arrest that is still in effect.

    The motion quotes court spokesman Alan Parachini as telling members of the media that Polanski was required to make a court appearance on his request for dismissal. Hummel said that issue must be resolved by a judge.

    "The court's public comments constituted a prejudgment of the merits of Mr. Polanski's request ... without having received full briefing, evidence or argument from the parties," the motion said.

    Hummel also alleged that the court and the district attorney's office had mounted "a campaign in the media in an apparent attempt to protect one of its own judges."

    He maintains that Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler tried to resolve the Polanski case in 1997 in a deal that would have required televised coverage of Polanski's court appearance. The court has denied that such a requirement was proposed.

    In a statement after the prosecution papers were filed, Hummel accused the district attorney's office of evading questions of judicial misconduct by focusing on the single issue of whether Polanski needs to be present for the hearing. He said the case should be moved out of Los Angeles County for review by an impartial judge.

    The details of Polanski's sexual activity with the girl had never been described in legal documents because he was permitted to plead guilty to a single charge of sexual intercourse with a minor and other charges were dismissed.

    That decision was explained in Tuesday's motion, which said it was based on the teenager's concerns. The document said the victim "expressed in no uncertain terms that she wished to maintain her anonymity and avoid the further trauma that would accompany a full-blown jury trial. Based on these expressed concerns, on Aug. 8, 1977, the defendant was permitted to plead guilty to one felony count ... for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. ... This was an open plea to the court, meaning that at the time of the plea, there did not exist any agreement as to what sentence may or may not be imposed."

    Polanski, the director of "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby," has continued to direct films while in exile, including the 2002 Holocaust drama "The Pianist," for which he won the best-director Academy Award.

    The case was a sensation when it broke. Polanski, the widower of Manson family murder victim Sharon Tate, was arrested for having sex with the girl. He was accused of giving her Quaaludes and champagne, taking her into a hot tub nude and having sex with her.

    The effort to wipe out the charge comes after an HBO documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," which portrayed the late Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband as a publicity hound who held news conferences and engaged in extra judicial meetings about the case.